Here are six ways you can adjust a PC to make it easier for students to concentrate:
1. Clean up and simplify the desktop
It may sound very basic, but cleaning up the clutter on the desktop can immediately help students focus better on the task of reading or typing. You can easily remove unnecessary icons on cluttered desktops.
Busy background images make it difficult to focus on the information on the screen. Animated or blinking images and information scrolling across the screen are fun, but they, too, can be very distracting. To keep students focused on the task at hand, it’s helpful to remove these elements. The Ease of Access Center (to open, press Windows logo key+U) offers more ideas for helping students focus on tasks, including options to remove background images, turn off animations, and reduce notifications.
Tip: To remove an icon from the desktop, right-click the icon, and then click Delete. If you are asked to confirm the deletion, click Yes.
Here’s how to make it easier to focus on tasks by reducing distractions:
2. Choose appropriate color schemes and themes
For students who have a hard time concentrating, color choices and visual themes can make a difference. Changing the colors and themes to something calming can support a student’s focus. You can create a calming theme in Windows or help the students create themes that work for them. Because each student is unique, he or she will have to experiment with the colors and themes that help them focus on reading and typing.
See a demo: How to personalize your PC
Here’s how to personalize colors and create a theme:
3. Use the whole screen to read
Recent versions of Microsoft Word include a Full Screen Reading view that fills the whole screen, making it easier to see the text and helping to eliminate or minimize other distractions. Full Screen Reading view also helps to improve text resolution and display, making it more legible. By displaying a cleaner, less cluttered screen, Full Screen Reading view can help students focus on the information that they need to read for class. While in Full Screen Reading view, students can also highlight and otherwise mark up text that they want to focus on or remember.
Here’s how to use Full Screen Reading view:
4. Review work with spelling, grammar, and word choice tools
One of students’ favorite features in Microsoft Office is the Spelling & Grammar checker. Students can check all spelling and grammar in a file and proof their text for possible mistakes. The Thesaurus feature suggests alternative choices when you click an individual word or phrase. Students can even use the Research and Translate features to help with their work.
Students can access spelling, grammar, and other tools on the Microsoft Word 2010 Review tab.
Here’s how to use spelling and grammar tools:
5. Use Speech Recognition
Many students who have difficulty concentrating have a hard time writing and typing their story but can talk about their ideas. Speech Recognition comes in Windows 7 and Windows Vista and lets a student speak to the PC, dictating ideas or entire essays onto the computer. To get started, you need a headset (your laptop may have come with one) and about 45 minutes to set up Speech Recognition and to train the PC to understand the individual student’s voice.
Here’s how to set up and use Speech Recognition to dictate and edit text:
6. Try Microsoft OneNote
This versatile note-taking program enables students to easily take and store notes. Students can learn a lot about organization from outlining and highlighting. OneNote offers both of these capabilities, plus it lets students mark notes with a variety of visual cues. And, because students can enter audio files and images into their notebooks, they don’t have to rely on text alone for information. Read more about how students can use Microsoft OneNote to get organized. Get started with OneNote 2010 and Office OneNote 2007.
If you follow these tips and a student still needs some help, you can try:
Word prediction software programs, which allow the user to select a desired word from an on-screen list in a prediction window. When a student types one or two letters, the program predicts words. The student selects a word from the list and inserts it into the text by typing a number, clicking the mouse, or scanning with a switch.
Reading tools and learning disabilities software programs, which are designed to make text-based materials more accessible for people who struggle with reading. Options include scanning, reformatting, navigating, or speaking text out loud.